OLYMPIA – The 2020 legislative session adjourned for the year on Thursday with several new policies and investments aimed at reducing homelessness on deck for becoming law.
“Homelessness was the number one issue coming into the session,” said Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), chair of the Senate Housing Stability & Affordability Committee. “I am encouraged by all we accomplished for the people of Washington. These new investments and changes in policy will have a real impact on people’s lives.”
The 2019-21 supplemental operating budget provides an additional $160 million to address housing and homelessness with new investments in services such as reducing youth homelessness, supporting a grant program for pregnant women and single mothers, and helping struggling families pay for child care.
The 2019-21 supplemental capital budget invests an additional $14 million in affordable housing and homeless programs, including $8 million to increase shelter capacity, $5 million for local community housing grant programs, and $1 million for a pilot program aimed at preserving mobile home communities.
“A supplemental budget year is typically meant to make minor tweaks here and there to the state budgets,” said Kuderer. “It was clear this year that minor tweaks simply weren’t going to cut it. Lawmakers in both chambers and both parties stepped up to address the challenges, particularly in the area of homelessness. We’re adjourning this week knowing our work this session will have a positive impact on communities across the state, and I look forward to coming back next session to build further on this important work.”
In addition to new investments, lawmakers approved several new policies to address homelessness and the insufficient supply of affordable housing.
Senate Bill 6378 (Kuderer/Macri) updates SB 5600, which was enacted in 2019, to extend pay or vacate notice periods from three to 14 days. SB 6378 adds additional protections for tenants such as prohibiting the threat of eviction for nonpayment of non-rent items.
House Bill 2512 (Orwall) takes tax lien foreclosure allowances afforded to homeowners in legislation approved in 2019 and extends them to mobile home owners to help low-income people stay in their homes.
SB 6617 (Liias) requires cities to revise local ordinances on parking requirements related to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) that are built near transit stops. ADUs are an affordable living option for those who might otherwise be living on the streets or in overcrowded shelters. SB 6617 will encourage more ADU construction and increase housing supply.
SB 6231 (Kuderer/Walen) extends current property tax exemptions for improvements made to single-family homes to ADUs.
SB 6212 (Das/Ryu) gives local governments additional flexibility with locally-collected property taxes by expanding the use of those funds for affordable homeownership, owner-occupied home repair, and foreclosure prevention programs for low-income households.
HB 2950 (Marci) extends the Multifamily Property Tax Exemption to maintain current affordable housing units, particularly in high-rent areas like Seattle. Without this extension, rents for many people living in affordable housing would increase and possibly force them out of their homes.
HB 1754 (Santos/Darneille) limits the hosting-related regulations that cities and counties can place on religious organizations. This will help churches, temples, synagogues, and other faith-based organizations fulfill their missions to serve communities and to the people who need it most.